U.S. Census Releases 2005 American Community Survey data for Southeast
Asian Americans

By Mark E. Pfeifer, PhD

In late Summer 2006, the U.S. Census Bureau released population estimates for Southeast Asian American
ethnic groups from the 2005 American Community Survey. These are the first updated estimates of
Southeast Asian American populations since the release of the 2000 Census enumerations in April 2001. The
2005 American Community Survey data set involves estimates based on surveys distributed to only a subset
of the U.S. population and is thus problematic in some respects. The 2005 ACS survey does provide updated
information about continuing migration of Cambodian-Americans, Hmong-Americans, Lao-Americans and
Vietnamese-Americans to different regions of the U.S.

Cambodian
The total 2005 Cambodian population in the U.S. was estimated at 217,438 compared to 171,937
(Cambodian alone ethnic identification) enumerated in 2000. More than 100,000 Cambodians were estimated
to live in the Western states, just under 50,000 in the Northeast, around 40,000 in the South and just under
20,000 in the Midwest. The top 10 rank-order states in terms of Cambodian-American populations were
California (83,562), Massachusetts (24,172), Washington (16,082), Texas (12,112), Florida (7,889),
Pennsylvania (6,194), Ohio (6,160), Minnesota (6,101), North Carolina (5,128), and Georgia (4,562).
According to the 2005 American Community Survey estimates, some of the strongest percentage growth in
Cambodian-American populations was seen in the states of Texas, Florida, Georgia and Connecticut.
Significant growth was also estimated to occur in California, and Massachusetts. A relatively small increase
was estimated in Minnesota (where the 2000 Census enumeration counted 5,530 Cambodians). The
estimated population actually decreased in Pennsylvania.

Hmong
The total 2005 Hmong Population in the U.S. was estimated at 183,265 compared to  169,428 (Hmong alone
ethnic identification) in the 2000 census. It is important to note that many Hmong mark multiple categories on
the census form (typically nationalities i.e. Lao/Thai) due to the fact that Hmong have historically not had their
own country unlike Cambodians, Lao and Vietnamese. The 2005 American Community Survey only includes
figures for Asian-Americans who marked a single ethnic identity on the survey form. The 2000 Census
enumerated about 186,000 Hmong in the Hmong Alone and any other Asian Ethnic Group Combination
category but comparable figures are not available from the 2005 ACS.  

Interestingly, the 2005 ACS figures show that the estimated Hmong population in the Midwest (95,902) has
now far outpaced the West (73,526), a trend that was becoming apparent in the 2000 Census and represents
quite a regional shift from the 1990 figures when a large proportion of U.S. Hmong lived in California. The
estimated Hmong population continues to grow in the South (12,621) but remains very small in the Northeast
(1,216).

The 2005 ACS estimated the top 10 states in terms of Hmong-American populations as follows: California
(65,345), Minnesota (46,352), Wisconsin (38,814), (Michigan (7,769), Colorado (4,285), North Carolina
(4,172), Georgia (3,324), Missouri (1,553), Florida (1,423) and Washington (1,380). Comparing to the 2005
ACS to the 2000 Census figures, significant increases in the Hmong population were observed in Minnesota
(up from just under 42,000 enumerated in the 2000 census), Wisconsin, Michigan, Colorado, Georgia,
Missouri, Oklahoma, Alaska and South Carolina. According to the 2005 figures, the population remained
static in California and actually decreased significantly in North Carolina and Oregon. Inexplicably, the 2005
ACS data indicate the Hmong population disappeared entirely in states such as Kansas (Kansas City Metro)
and New York (Syracuse) where it is clear from community anecdotes that modest-sized communities remain.
The 2005 ACS also seems to possibly undercount the Hmong population in Arkansas relative to Missouri and
Oklahoma. These 3 states have received significant Hmong-American migrations since 2000. These obvious
errors demonstrate some of the faults of the U.S. Census bureau moving from a broad population count to
estimates based on limited numbers of surveys, though, on the plus side, a new reliance on the American
Community Survey does allow ethnic group-specific population data to be made available more frequently
than the decennial Census count done every 10 years.   Finally, it also should be noted that the Hmong-
American figures in the 2005 ACS would include few if any of the more than 15,000 Hmong refugees resettled
in the U.S. from Wat Tham Krabok in Thailand in the 2004-2006 period. These Hmong newcomers were
disproportionately resettled in California, Minnesota, and Wisconsin.

Lao
The 2005 American Community Survey estimates the Lao-American population across the U.S. at 193,247
compared to 168,707 enumerated in the 2000 census (Lao alone ethnic identification). The vast majority of
Lao-Americans were estimated to live in the West (95,574), followed by the South (44,471), Midwest (37,820),
and Northeast (15,382).

The top 10 states in terms of Lao-American populations according to the 2005 ACS estimates were: California
(63,318), Texas (12,643), Minnesota (11,636), Washington (10,638), Iowa (6,129), North Carolina (5,854),
Georgia (5,546), Tennessee (4,781), Michigan (4,735), and Florida (4,035). States that appear to have had
significant increases in Lao population when comparing the 2005 ACS estimates to the 2000 Census figures
include California, Washington, Iowa and Michigan with lesser increases in many other states including
Minnesota (up from an enumerated 9,940 in the 2000 census). Notable decreases in Lao-American
population show up in the 2005 ACS data in the states of Illinois and Wisconsin.

Vietnamese
The 2005 American Community Survey estimates the Vietnamese-American population across the U.S. at
1,418,334 compared to 1,122,528 enumerated in the 2000 census (Vietnamese alone ethnic identification).
The 2005 ACS estimates provide Vietnamese-American population regional distributions as follows West
(694,859), South (425,248), Northeast (162,707), and Midwest (135,520).

The top 10 states in terms of Vietnamese-American residence according to the 2005 ACS estimates were:
California (539,150), Texas (159,107), Washington (60,543), Florida (55,555), Massachusetts (48,583),
Virginia (48,035), New York (39,131), Georgia (37,159),  Pennsylvania (35,111), and Oregon (25,684). In the
2005 figures, Minnesota (21,810) ranked 15th among states in its estimated Vietnamese-American
population. According to the 2005 ACS data, significant increases in Vietnamese population over the past 5
years have occurred in California, Texas, Washington, Florida, Massachusetts, New York, Virginia, Georgia,
Oregon, Maryland, North Carolina, and Illinois. Lesser increases were observed in many other states
including Minnesota (where just under 19,000 Vietnamese were enumerated in the 2000 census). In
Louisiana, a small decrease in Vietnamese-American population is implied when comparing the 2000 and
2005 figures.   

Mark E. Pfeifer, PhD is an Academic Librarian at Texas A and M University in Corpus Christi. He is also editor
of the peer-reviewed scholarly publication, the Hmong Studies Journal, and the Hmong Studies Internet
Resource Center (
www.hmongstudies.org) as well as the Vietnamese Studies Internet Resource Center (www.
vstudies.org) website. Mark may be reached at mark.pfeifer@tamucc.edu

This article originally appeared in the Asian American Press newspaper, Saint Paul, MN, October 28, 2006



2005 American Community Survey
Southeast Asian American Populations

Data compiled by Mark E. Pfeifer, PhD

Estimated U.S. Population by Ethnicity

B02006. ASIAN ALONE BY SELECTED GROUPS - Universe: TOTAL ASIAN ALONE POPULATION
Data Set: 2005 American Community Survey
Survey: 2005 American Community Survey


Hmong - 183,265
Lao - 193,247
Cambodian - 217,438
Vietnamese - 1,418,334


Cambodian

B02006. ASIAN ALONE BY SELECTED GROUPS - Universe: TOTAL ASIAN ALONE POPULATION
Data Set: 2005 American Community Survey
Survey: 2005 American Community Survey

United States – 217,438

Northeast – 47,161
Midwest – 19,591
South – 41,710
West – 108,976

1. California – 83,562
2. Massachusetts – 24,172
3. Washington – 16,082
4. Texas – 12,112
5. Florida – 7,889
6. Pennsylvania – 6,194
7. Ohio – 6,160
8. Minnesota – 6,101
9. North Carolina – 5,128
10. Georgia – 4,562
11. Connecticut – 4,174
12. Virginia – 4,047
13. Illinois – 3,899
14. New York – 3,364
15. Oregon – 3,284
16. Maryland – 2,639
17. Utah – 2,183
18. Colorado – 1,969
19. Tennessee – 1,633
20. New Jersey – 1,528
21. Oklahoma – 1,157
22. Kentucky - 856
23. Iowa – 788
24. Arizona – 776
25. South Carolina - 697
26. Michigan - 648
27. Kansas – 610
28. Wisconsin - 596
29. Missouri - 586
30. Nevada - 549
31. Alabama – 535
32. Hawaii – 443
33. Louisiana - 350
34. Alaska – 128
35. Indiana - 121


Hmong

B02006. ASIAN ALONE BY SELECTED GROUPS - Universe: TOTAL ASIAN ALONE POPULATION
Data Set: 2005 American Community Survey
Survey: 2005 American Community Survey

United States – 183,265

Northeast – 1,216
Midwest – 95,902
South – 12,621
West – 73,526

1. California – 65,345
2. Minnesota – 46,352
3. Wisconsin – 38,814
4. Michigan – 7,769
5. Colorado – 4,285
6. North Carolina – 4,172
7. Georgia – 3,324
8. Missouri – 1,553
9. Florida - 1,423
10. Washington – 1,380
11. Alaska – 1,285
12. Oklahoma – 1,168
13. Oregon – 1,091
14. South Carolina – 1,010
15. Texas - 660
16. Tennessee - 622
17. Illinois – 545
18. Massachusetts - 506
19. Iowa – 499
20. Ohio – 370
21. Pennsylvania - 355
22. Connecticut - 271
23. Arkansas – 203
24. Utah - 140
25. New York – 84
26. Virginia - 39


Lao

B02006. ASIAN ALONE BY SELECTED GROUPS - Universe: TOTAL ASIAN ALONE POPULATION
Data Set: 2005 American Community Survey
Survey: 2005 American Community Survey

United States – 193,247

Northeast – 15,382
Midwest – 37,820
South – 44,471
West – 95,574

1. California – 63,318
2. Texas – 12,643
3. Minnesota – 11,636
4. Washington – 10,638
5. Iowa – 6,129
6. North Carolina – 5,854
7. Georgia – 5,546
8. Tennessee – 4,781
9. Michigan – 4,735
10. Florida – 4,035
11. Oregon – 3,860
12. Nevada – 3,854
13. Illinois – 3,784
14. Kansas – 3,294
15. Arizona – 3,279
16. Wisconsin – 3,026
17. Ohio – 3,000
18. Hawaii – 2,917
19. Colorado - 2,892
20. Virginia – 2,790
21. Utah – 2,682
22. New York – 2,545
23. Connecticut -2,534
24. Pennsylvania – 2,431
25. Arkansas – 2,338
26. Louisiana – 2,097
27. Indiana – 1,578
28. Alaska – 1,562
29. Maryland – 1,306
30. South Carolina – 1,114
31. Massachusetts – 966
32. New Jersey – 923
33. Oklahoma - 633
34. Alabama – 589
35. Missouri - 282
36. Kentucky – 253


Vietnamese

B02006. ASIAN ALONE BY SELECTED GROUPS - Universe: TOTAL ASIAN ALONE POPULATION
Data Set: 2005 American Community Survey
Survey: 2005 American Community Survey


United States – 1,418,334

Northeast – 162,707
Midwest – 135,520
South - 425,248
West – 694,859

1. California – 539,150
2. Texas – 159,107
3. Washington – 60,543
4. Florida - 55,555
5. Massachusetts – 48,583
6. Virginia – 48,035
7. New York – 39,131
8. Georgia – 37,159
9. Pennsylvania – 35,111
10. Oregon – 25,684
11. Illinois – 25,017
12. Louisiana – 23,463
13. Maryland – 22,513
14. North Carolina – 21,897
15. Minnesota – 21,810
16. New Jersey – 20,976
17. Colorado – 20,370
18. Michigan – 17,938
19. Arizona – 15,873
20. Oklahoma – 14,286
21. Ohio – 14,705
22. Missouri – 14,579
23. Kansas – 12,278
24. Connecticut – 9,396
25. Utah – 9,366
26. Tennessee – 8,651
27. South Carolina – 8,453
28. Indiana – 8,355
29. Hawaii – 8,264
30. Nevada – 7,444
31. Iowa – 7,206
32. Arkansas – 6,467
33. Alabama – 6,183
34. Wisconsin – 5,728
35. Kentucky – 5,001
36. Alaska – 921


For Detailed Socioeconomic and Demographic 2005 ACS Data Click on the Links Below

Hmong
Lao
Cambodian
Vietnamese